Instruments in Worship


“1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. 3 And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 4 And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee. 5 When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. 6 When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. 7 But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. 8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations. 9 And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. 10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.” – Numbers 10:1-10

God, as the Almighty Sovereign over all His creation, has commanded us to worship Him exclusively. This command is found clearly stated in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. However, God didn’t stop there. He went on to command us to worship Him as He commands. There are two principles of worship; 1) the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW). The idea behind this principle is that only those things which God has expressly commanded are permitted in worship. The second is the Normative Principle of Worship (NPW). This principle says that only those things which are expressly forbidden are prohibited. Nadab and Abihu worked according to this principle and it cost them their life (see Leviticus 10:1-2). Thus we can see from this example that God takes his worship very seriously. For those who think that God is more lax in the New Testament consider these words from Hebrew 12:28, 29; “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.”  

All this has been said by way of introduction. For we need to be aware that God not only commands us to worship, but also how we are to worship. With that being said I am lead to my main question and topic for this post. What is the place of musical instruments in worship? In Scripture, we read that what God desires concerning His worship, he laid down at Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:40, Hebrews 8:5). So where do instruments come into the picture? Numbers 10:1-10  is where the Lord instructed Moses to make silver trumpets and what those trumpets were supposed to be used for. Below I have bolded the uses of the trumpets.

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. 3 And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 4 And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee. 5 When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. 6 When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. 7 But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. 8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations. 9 And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. 10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.

Now, you can see a little more clearly the four purposes given for the trumpets. 1) Calling of the assembly, 2) journeying of the camps, 3) Going to war against an oppressor, and 4) over burnt offerings and peace offerings. Those who argue for the use of instruments are essentially returning to shadows. Instruments were instituted to be blown over burnt and peace offerings but not to be played during the singing of God’s people in worship of Him. This is further evident by those passages in 1 Chronicles 23:5; 25:1 and 2 Chronicles 8:14; 29:25-26 which show that only the priests and the levites played instruments before the Lord and even then during the sacrifices. Thus with the passing away of the temple ceremonies the use of instruments in worship have also passed away.

I know that this has not been exhaustive on the subject, indeed it hasn’t been my intention to do so. Rather just to give you some food for thought as to why the use of instruments is in fact a violation of the Regulative Principle of Worship.

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